Open Your Bible
Genesis 13:5-18, Genesis 14:1-24, Hebrews 7:1-22
BY Missy Fuller
Text: Genesis 13:5-18, Genesis 14:1-24, Hebrews 7:1-22
The 1990s were a perfect decade to be a young, aspiring, female athlete.
In 1996, the US Women’s Gymnastics Team won gold in the team all-around competition at the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. We all screamed and cried when Kerri Strug stuck her final vault landing with one uninjured foot. In 1998, Tara Lipinski became the youngest individual to win a Winter Olympic gold medal when she took the title in women’s figure skating—before she even finished middle school! And in 1999, Mia Hamm and the US Women’s Soccer Team took home the World Cup championship after a nail-biting final, double overtime, and a penalty kick shootout. An entire nation of soccer girls rejoiced.
We all love our heroes. Something in us can’t help but look to someone greater than ourselves. Eleven-year-old Missy could tell you every stat, biological fact, and piece of trivia you ever wanted to know about those three athletes—especially Mia Hamm.
When we read about Israel in Genesis, we see God’s people had a hero of their own: Abram. And what a hero he was! In Genesis chapters 13-14 alone, Abram selflessly offered the best land to his nephew and then defeated the armies of four kingdoms—with only 318 fighting men (Genesis 14:14). He was a man of great wealth and power, but more importantly, he spoke directly with the God of the universe (Genesis 12:1-3).
Yet here is Abram, a mighty hero, honoring another man: Melchizedek. Melchizedek was king of Salem, and he is the first mention of a priest in the Old Testament. He is a representative of God Most High sent to bless Abram, who, in response, gives him a tenth of the spoils after defeating the four kings (Genesis 14:18-19). Abram’s gesture signified honor and respect to Melchizedek.
While Abram was Israel’s hero, Scripture tells us Melchizedek was even greater than Abram. The writer of Hebrews says, “just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!” (Hebrews 7:4).
In Melchizedek, we see the beginnings of the priestly system God would establish for Israel in Exodus and Leviticus. The purpose of the Levitical priests was to make atonement for the people and serve as mediators between Israel and the Lord. But they, too, were sinful men and very much in need of a perfect mediator themselves. Theirs was a covenant marked by bloodshed, sacrifice, and ritual (Leviticus 14:19). The system was broken—and everyone knew it. But in Psalm 110, Israel is promised another priest to come:
The Lord has sworn an oath and will not take it back:
“Forever, You are a priest like Melchizedek.”
– Psalm 110:4
This coming priest would be the one to fix the broken system and establish a better one. He who was greater than Abram and Melchizedek would never fail and would forever provide freedom from the curse of sin. The Israelites were waiting for something better—for someone better. They were waiting for Jesus.
Jesus became the guarantor of a better covenant, one sealed by His perfect life and selfless sacrifice—the ultimate act of obedience. Jesus is indeed greater, even than Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:22).
Abram was blessed that day in the Valley of Shaveh, but the true blessing was that God foreshadowed a new and better priesthood through Melchizedek. His was merely a model for Christ’s priesthood—a priesthood that ushered in a new covenant of grace and blessing instead of punishment and sacrifice.
Isn’t that our God? He takes the brokenness that surrounds us and gives us something better.
Abram is still a hero, but Jesus is the one who redeems us “on the basis of the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). May we worship our Savior today, remembering His new, perfect covenant of grace.